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The Giants could face the NFL’s best defenses in 2023

The Giants could face some of the best defenses in the NFL in 2023

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants Chris Pedota-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are projected to have a much tougher schedule in 2023 than they did in 2022.

At least on paper, the Giants have the third-hardest schedule in 2023 based on their opponents’ 2022 win totals. The Giants are also going to be at a nine-day rest disadvantage over the course of the season.

But while the Giants are facing a tough schedule in 2023, they’re also expected to be better this year. The Giants have invested in all three levels of their defense, adding talent to the defensive line, linebackers, and secondary.

Joe Schoen has also invested considerable resources in the Giants’ offense. They brought back Isaiah Hodgins and Darius Slayton, traded for hybrid tight end Darren Waller, signed wide receivers Paris Campbell and Jameson Crowder in free agency, and drafted wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, center John Michael Schmitz, and running back Eric Gray.

The Giants played efficient, mistake-free football last year, but their (highly) risk averse offense struggled to score touchdowns and they were last in the NFL in generating explosive plays. The hope is that by keeping their best weapons from a year ago, adding new weapons, and improving the offensive line, the Giants will be able to field an offense that can dictate the terms of the game.

But they could have their work cut out for themselves in 2023.

Defense is notoriously volatile from year to year, and it can be difficult to project a defense’s future play based on past performance. However, Arif Hasan of the Pro Football Network attempted to create a model to predict how defenses will play this season. His projected top 10 defenses looks like this:

  1. New York Jets
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. San Francisco 49ers
  4. Washington Commanders
  5. New England Patriots
  6. Buffalo Bills
  7. Miami Dolphins
  8. Philadelphia Eagles
  9. Denver Broncos
  10. Cincinnati Bengals

In short, the Giants will have 11 games against the (projected) top eight defenses in the NFL. Nine of those 11 games will come before the Giants’ Week 13 bye, and the Giants will play the 49ers, Dolphins, Bills, Cowboys*, and Commanders* on the road over that span.

* The Giants will also play Dallas and Washington at home in their first 12 games.

The Giants do catch potential breaks against the Seattle Seahawks (projected to be 23rd), Raiders (30th), and Rams (32nd). Those games could provide welcome breaks in difficult stretches.

There’s plenty of intrigue in how the Giants’ offense will come together over the course of the 2023. The expectation is that the additions of Waller, Campbell, and Hyatt will lead to a more explosive offense than we saw in 2022. However, the Giants’ short-ranged offense had the benefit of limiting turnovers last year. Their 16 giveaways (six interceptions, 10 fumbles lost) were the second-fewest in the NFL last year, which played a major role in their success over the course of the season. Pivoting to a more explosive down-field offense could create opportunities for more turnovers. The pay-off be worth the risk, but the it’s a risk that the coaching staff needs to consider with ballhawks like Trevon Diggs or Tariq Woolen on their schedule.

Much of the Giants’ offense in 2022 revolved around Mike Kafka scheming to attack opponents’ tendencies. It will be fascinating to see how Kafka and Daboll incorporate the new weapons to attack the defenses the Giants will face this year, as well as get everyone on the same page.

Given the caliber of defenses the Giants will play in the first part of their season — and that they’ll often be playing them on the road — they’ll need their offense to come together quickly.